Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flood Victims in Dire Straits: Bush/McCain Eating Cake

As you vote
Please keep in mind the end of August, 2005
When Katrina thundered in and the levies broke
Where George Bush was
Remember again
Where George Bush was - through the hurricane rain.
Arizona: Birthday party: Pal: John McCain!

They ate cake, celebrated, right there on the tarmac
but did not eat it all (to save room for the yummy party snacks!)
Jubilant and festive as slurry was solidifying to muddy,
As you vote, be mindful:
The character of a man is reflected in his buddy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gus and Mary

It's my favorite guitar player/singer/songwriter again: Benjamin Impey.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Michael Tobias

In the early 1980's, when I was part time aerobics instructor working on a bachelor's in English, a genius breezed through the university to teach creative writing and I happened to take the class because it was at 2:30 T, TH.

He didn't stay more than a semester because he was not destined to stand still that long. He was patient but didn't have time for the insincere, which made me about 10% smarter in his presence. He encouraged me to write and work with writers, which I wound up doing by the end of the semester. He told me to write a sitcom pilot so I did. He suggested I write a radio piece a la NPR, so I did - and this was just a junior level class. He had several projects in development at the time, each with a bent toward motivating humanity into interacting with the world (that includes nature) through non-violence and actual use of our intelligence and conscience.

Michael Tobias was and still is one of my favorite people ever.

Over the years he'd contact me from time to time and I would attend screenings, educational events. The last time I saw him was about ten years ago at a reading he did in Santa Monica for Rage and Reason, a thriller to awaken our empathy for the animals we use as products - and an admonishment that we should knock it off.

He was the Voice of the Planet far before it would become trendy to think about environmentalism. He warned about global warming, over population, and exploitation.

He climbed arctic ice cliffs, wrote a novel about the worlds of Vermeer before The Girl with a Pearl Earring appeared in a book, and introduced me to an artist who said the child who paints the sky pink is actually onto something.

When I worked as a story editor in film in the second half of the 80's (a career path he led me to) producers all over town were going through a phase of trying to come up with the environmental thriller people would actually go see. Hollywood wanted to sound the alarm for the polar ice caps melting - but the priority was to bring in big Box Office.

Production meeting notes:

Producer: "Global warming huh... when will disaster strike?"

Story editor: "Well, it won't actually 'strike', but around 1999 we should start seeing enough evidence to get people to believe the problem is real."

P: "Hmm... kinda slow moving, isn't it?"

SE: "It'll be bad - but yeah, the crisis will be more of a drawn out anguish."

P: "Any chance this thing could happen all at once - stoppable by only one man?"

SE: "No, it's a kinda thing we all have to prevent, and if we succeed, we can never be sure it woulda happened."

By now there are lots of films on the subject - no perfect thriller better than reality so documentary is doing the job. But what changed? More people got interested. But look how long it took the message to get across, and what diligence it took to educate and enlighten - and how much certainty of purpose it takes to rise group intelligence by oh, say about 10%.

When I think of what is possible for a life well lived, what it would mean to participate with everything I have to offer or sum up from within, I routinely think of a few people: Steve Martin (I'm not that clever), Mother Theresa (too itchy) and Michael Tobias. What is the difference that drives people like these? For one, they don't seem interested in wasting time. Secondly, I don't think they see a reason to.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Sober and Exciting, Steady and Mature"

The LA Times endorses Barack Obama for president of the US. "This is big," said my mother, "you know that paper is traditionally republican!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Peace as a Practical Objective

Looking at war from the perspective of the Conscientious Objector presents an odd juxtaposition of brutality and compassion. It's one thing to know in advance that one is not cut out for war, and another to realize this after participating. Conscientious Objection cannot coexist, at least not for long, with the self protecting dynamics a soldier needs to continue doing his or her job.

Soldiers of Conscience was approved by the US Army and is not one sided. It offers a grim look at how war makes us treat other human beings, acknowledges that the team of soldiers relies on disciplined agreement with each mision, and yet has a refreshing optimism about the possibilities for humanity if we refuse to use war as a problem solving tactic. The filmmakers, Gary Weimberg and Catherine Ryan, cite studies that show it is not dominant in our nature to kill each other. Have a look.

Note to those who say sometimes war is the only option: we must start early to prevent war. How about we start now preventing the next possible one?

We will keep stumbling and or running headlong into wars until enough of us stop. Learning not to resort to war, as a species, not just as Americans, is a long term training, but when better to begin?

A friend once said to me that as long as we have hostile people perpetrating aggression we will have war. I said when compassion among us becomes big enough that no one feels the need to act aggressively, we will have peace. I didn't make this up. Some of Earth's greatest heroes have been trying to get this through to us since forever. Here's the irony: it seems we need to be hit over the head with it. We have to be smarter.

One of the subjects in the film said people think the point of view of the Conscientious Objector is naive. He said, yes, maybe it is. But why is that bad? People were also called naive who said maybe someday humans could set foot on the moon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

FDR's Fireside Chats

Sarah Vowell was on The Daily Show the other night, and said she gets comfort listening to FDR's Fireside Chats. I tried it. He provides some good reasonable thinking in a crisis.

Bush says we can get through this financial crisis. Ulp! Now I'm more scared. Okay, let's revisit the concept of "The New Deal" too...

Don't panic.

Project Ten to the Hundredth I like this idea.

Google says: "How it works:
Project 10100 (pronounced "Project 10 to the 100th") is a call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible. Here's how to join in."

Deadline for submissions is October 20 so we have to kinda hurry. I have not hatched an idea yet.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Greed Reaches New Depths

AIG Execs spend bundles (tune: $400,000+) at a fancy So Cal resort AFTER the bailout.

I'll say it again: we need to liquidate all assets of these plunderers and put it toward the debt on the bailout. I'm talking about everything from mansions to silverware. They can start fresh with a fifty dollar Target gift card and a newspaper for the classifieds. I used to say give 'em first and last month's rent on a cheap 2 bedroom apartment, but they just blew that offer.

I'm serious. Why are we letting them keep their stuff?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Now there IS a "Think" Button!

Gmail now offers help to impulsive emotional emailers: Mail Goggles.

Engage it, and you will be asked to solve a few math problems before you can send that brilliant, heart pounding email.

Google says, "By default, Mail Goggles is only active late night on the weekend as that is the time you're most likely to need it."

At last the invention my friend thought of years ago has come into play!